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Mindful Eating Strategies: Shift Out of Autopilot

Beyond Intentions

It’s easy to zone out when you’re eating, especially if you’re eating food for stimulation or comfort.  Just the anticipation of eating alone triggers a surge of dopamine to the prefrontal cortex, which amplifies the expected pleasure of the pending experience.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.  We all want to enjoy our meals.  But the problem lies in the way autopilot eating deeply distracts you from other choices which are essential to improving and and protecting your health.

Topping the list is autopilot eating’s ability to make you lose track of proportions, satiety and frequency.  So, you quickly wind up eating too much, still feeling strangely hungry and before you know it, getting ready to eat more food.  The bad news is that this dopamine-driven closed loop haunts everyone who is struggling to make better choices about food.  The good news is that mindful eating can help you adopt a “transformative habit” that disrupts this autopilot behavior.

Although awkward at first, over time the habit of mindful awareness slowly guides you into making better choices about when, where and what food to eat.  As you cultivate this approach before and during eating, you will decrease the incidence of what has come be known as “mindless eating.”

You can reinforce the implementation of this transformative habit by recording in a journal or an online application everything you eat.   It’s helpful to record when, what and how much you eat.  For most women, the act of tracking food intake results in a marked decrease in autopilot eating.

Find out more about how mindful eating self-coaching cards can help you disrupt the closed-loop of autopilot eating


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